Sephardic Jews arrive in Seattle in 1902.

  • By Lee Micklin
  • Posted 11/02/1998
  • Essay 111
See Additional Media

In 1902, the first two Sephardic Jews (of Spanish origin), Jacob (Jack) Policar (d. 1961) and Solomon Calvo (1879-1964), arrive in Seattle from the island of Marmara, Turkey

In 1904, Policar and Calvo met Nissim Alhadeff, who had arrived that year from the Isle of Rhodes, in a Seattle Greek cafe.

By 1906, 17 Sephardic Jews resided in Seattle. That number tripled by 1907. As economic and political conditions in the Ottoman Empire deteriorated, and as Jews became newly subject to the draft, immigration increased. Sephardim from Constantinople and Rodesto joined those from Rhodes and Marmara. By 1930, Seattle would be second to New York in Sephardic population in the United States and three congregations would have been established:

  • Sephardic Bikur Cholim founded by Jews from Turkey, particularly Tekirdag, incorporated in 1910;
  • Ezra Bessaroth Congregation, evolved out of Koupa Ozer Dalim Anshe Rhodes, a fund to help the needy in Rhodes; its synagogue incorporated in 1914;
  • Ahavath Achim Congregation, founded in 1914, had a membership that included the earliest founders of the Seattle Sephardic community -- Jacob Policar, Solomo Calvo, and David Levy.


Albert Adatto, "Sephardim and the Seattle Sephardic Community" (M.A. thesis, University of Washington, 1939).

Licensing: This essay is licensed under a Creative Commons license that encourages reproduction with attribution. Credit should be given to both and to the author, and sources must be included with any reproduction. Click the icon for more info. Please note that this Creative Commons license applies to text only, and not to images. For more information regarding individual photos or images, please contact the source noted in the image credit.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License
Major Support for Provided By: The State of Washington | Patsy Bullitt Collins | Paul G. Allen Family Foundation | Museum Of History & Industry | 4Culture (King County Lodging Tax Revenue) | City of Seattle | City of Bellevue | City of Tacoma | King County | The Peach Foundation | Microsoft Corporation, Other Public and Private Sponsors and Visitors Like You